Dan Carsen


Dan Carsen is our health and science reporter. He’s been a science teacher, a teacher trainer, a newspaper reporter, a radio commentator, and an editor at an educational publishing house. His writing and reporting have won numerous regional and national awards. His outside interests include basketball, sailing, percussion, raptors, and seeking REM brainwaves.

Interview: Dr. Robert Corley

In Birmingham's historic Kelly Ingram Park, there's a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of the names on the stone pedestal is Robert Corley. Among other things, Dr. Corley teaches history at UAB. He was a founding member of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute board and has served on the city school board. Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen recently sat down with him while researching stories for our special Civil Rights anniversary coverage. Corley says today's students are missing some of that vital history.

Carsen Talks School Security And More On Capitol Journal

Our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen recently appeared as a guest journalist on Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal, a highly regarded program that analyzes the week's signficant stories. Dan discusses the controversy at Alabama State University, Birmingham City Schools, security in light of the Sandy Hook shootings, and the holiday struggles of students who depend on school for food.

Backpack Buddies Fighting Student Hunger

As we reported yesterday, about 17 million kids in the U.S. are in danger of malnutrition, which can trigger behavior problems and stunt brain development. Given the scope of the problem, the importance of subsidized school meals becomes clear ... but what happens to needy kids from Friday night through Monday morning? In his second story on student hunger, our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen looks at one solution in Shelby County.

Holiday Hunger: Harder To Address When School’s Out

Roughly 30 million students in the United States rely on federally subsidized school meals. Even so, more than half that number are in real danger of malnutrition. So many kids depending on school for food may seem troubling enough ... but what happens when school's closed? Our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has more on that deceptively simple question as districts across our area prepare for the holidays.

Turnaround Schools: Alabama’s George Hall, Pt. 2

Sometimes, poorly run disadvantaged schools defy the statistics and turn themselves around. Sometimes, they even achieve at a level so high they become national models for education in any neighborhood. In the conclusion of our series on "Turnaround Schools," Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen picks up the story of an elementary school that did just that. How did it happen? It wasn’t easy, but persistence, teamwork, and a belief in the students is winning out.

Turnaround Schools: Alabama’s George Hall, Pt. 1

Imagine a school in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood. It has discipline problems, a dismal reputation, and some of the worst test scores in Alabama. That was Mobile's George Hall Elementary in 2004. Now imagine an award-winning school known around the country for its innovative teaching and high student performance. That's George Hall Elementary now. So how'd it happen? In Part Four of our five-part series on "Turnaround Schools," WBHM's Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen takes us there to find out.

UA Has First Permanent Female President

As of today, the University of Alabama has its first female president in its 181-year history. Judy Bonner, provost and vice president, was chosen unanimously.

Alabama’s Only High-School Freethinkers’ Club

A recent national poll shows a vast increase in the number of non-religious Americans. Roughly a fifth are now atheist, agnostic, or 'nothing in particular.' But polls also show non-believers are the least-trusted group in the country. So the trend is a prescription for some tension, tension that sometimes plays out in the nation's schools. Our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has more on one example -- the story behind Alabama's only high-school 'freethinkers' club.

Maddox Arrested, Resigns

Birmingham School Board president Edward Maddox has been arrested on charges of ethics violations. He is resigning, and scheduled to appear in a court hearing today. Read more here.

Controversial Student Training Includes Taking On Gunmen

Jonesboro, Columbine, Virginia Tech. Those names and others have become tragic shorthand for school shootings. Today, when there’s a threat, the typical lockdown plan that most schools follow is sound the alarm, call police, lock doors, and stay put. But a growing number of schools are adopting controversial training that includes how to fight back against a gunman. WBHM's Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has the story.

Carsen and Ott Talk All Things Alabama Education

The School Superintendents of Alabama is set to announce today the Superintendent of the Year, and embattled Birmingham schools chief Craig Witherspoon is among the nine people up for the honor. Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen tells Tanya Ott about that and a grade-changing scandal in Montgomery.

Reverse Integration In A Birmingham School

Birmingham was at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, a major front in the battles that ended legal segregation. When the schools were integrated, white people fled the city, taking resources and other advantages with them. That continues today, but about two dozen families are bucking the trend and trying to reverse the process. WBHM's Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has the story.

BREAKING: Birmingham BOE Conducts Civil, Productive Meeting

The Birmingham School Board conducted a civil and efficient meeting Tuesday night, perhaps cowed by a judge's ruling that the state does have authority over the district and that Superintendent Craig Witherspoon will keep his job during the takeover. Our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has this surprising web-exclusive.

August 15 Morning Newscast

The Birmingham School Board conducts a civil and efficient meeting; former governor Don Siegelman says a presidential pardon is his last hope for freedom; and criminal wrong doing at the Birmingham Water Works.

Judge Extends Orders Against Birmingham School Board

One round of testimony is over, but the long road to legal closure in the battle over Birmingham Schools is not. After two sometimes arcane, sometimes fiery days of testimony, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Houston Brown on Thursday extended two temporary injunctions against the Birmingham Board of Education by 10 days or until further notice. Our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has the latest in this web-exclusive story.

Tranquil Resource, Contentious Beginnings

About seven miles from Fort Payne is the northern gateway to a vision, a vision of a nearly hundred-mile "central park" between Birmingham, Atlanta, and Chattanooga. Decades in the making, the conservation, tourism, and education opportunities are gelling in this huge green corridor. In Part Two of his series, WBHM's Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has the intriguing story behind this growing resource.

Bham Board Fires Witherspoon, But…

People who've been saying they could no longer be surprised by the Birmingham school board were surprised Tuesday night, and for several reasons.The most important was the fact that, despite the state takeover, the board voted to terminate the contract of Superintendent Craig Witherspoon. WBHM's Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has the web-exclusive story.

Lessons of the Little River Canyon Center

On a high plateau in rural northeast Alabama, there's a multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art education complex. Campus, museum, community center, and event spot, Jacksonville State University's Little River Canyon Center is becoming a destination for students, tourists, and regular local people. How this unlikely place came to be is a twenty-year story of politics, money, celebrity, and inspiration. But for this first of two reports, WBHM's Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen focuses on what people are learning there now:

Carsen Interviewed By “The Terminal” On Radio Journalism

The Terminal, Birmingham's web information hub, recently interviewed our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen on video about everything from his day-to-day job to big-picture education issues, including what has surprised him the most in his year-plus reporting for WBHM and the SED. Click through to watch the interview and get an inside look at what being a public radio education reporter is like.

Carsen and Ott on All Things Alabama Education

We've had a short break from Birmingham Board of Education fireworks, but that doesn't mean that story or the Alabama education beat has slowed down at all. In this week's Edu-Chat, WBHM's Tanya Ott inverviews Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen on No Child Left Behind, the Education Trust Fund, local kids in China, and "meatless meetings."

INTERVIEW: Dr. Michael Crowe

Education affects how the brain ages, and when older people take cognitive tests, the results are compared to those of others with the same amount of schooling. But new UAB research shows that because of racial and economic disparities in education quality, that approach could be leading to disadvantaged people being diagnosed as impaired when they really aren't. Our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen sat down with Dr. Michael Crowe, who says the disparities in our schools are obvious.

State Board Approves B’ham Schools Management Plan

It didn't take much convincing for Alabama schools chief Tommy Bice to secure his board's formal approval of the management plan he's putting in place for Birmingham Schools. State board members, after expressing appreciation for Bice's handling of a difficult situation, voted unanimously to approve it at a special called meeting early Thursday afternoon. Our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has the latest in this web-exclusive.

State Taking Over Birmingham Schools

In developments that many saw coming, the state education department is seizing control of Birmingham City Schools. Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has this late-breaking web-exclusive.

Good Teaching: A Play-By-Play

In some ways, teaching is like sports: there’s a lot that’s unseen by the untrained eye. That’s one reason post-game analysis is popular. So why not do that for something vital to our future? Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen used to be a teacher and a teacher-trainer. As part of our series "What Makes Good Teaching," he offers a play-by-play from right here in Birmingham.

B’ham Schools Submit State-Mandated Plan

The Birmingham School System has met the first part of a state-mandated deadline by submitting a detailed cost-cutting plan. But the state still could take over the local system's fiances soon. Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has this late-breaking Friday web exclusive.

Carsen, Ott on All Things Alabama Education

Clearly, just because school is out doesn't mean the education beat is slowing down. The question on many people's minds is, what's going on with Birmingham City Schools and the state? WBHM's Tanya Ott interviews Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen on that, tuition increases, "digital districts," and a grant meant to make cancer treatment more cost effective.

State Steps Up Intervention, Could Take Over Bham Schools

The Alabama State Board of Education votes to have the state oversee the Birmingham School Board's day-to-day financial operations, specifically its implementation of a cost-cutting plan. But that could be just the beginning of state involvement. Dan Carsen has this web-exclusive story and national newscast spot.

Backs to Wall, Birmingham BOE Approves Cuts

After another surprising and sometimes confusing meeting, the Birmingham Board of Education has approved a cost-cutting plan some hope will keep the state from taking over the district. Our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has this web-exclusive report.

Carsen, Ott on All Things Alabama Education

A lot has been happening on the Alabama education beat since our last chat with Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen, but one story continues to dominate and make national news: the Birmingham School Board. A slim majority recently rejected a state cost-cutting proposal, but ironically, that defiant move could result in the board losing what little autonomy it has left. WBHM's Tanya Ott interviews Carsen on that subject and more.

B’ham Board Rejects State Cost-Cutting Plan

In a 5-4 vote along increasingly familiar lines, the Birmingham Board of Education on Tuesday rejected a cost-cutting plan proposed last week by the state team investigating the local board. An outright state takeover could be imminent. Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has this web-exclusive story.

Birmingham to Beijing

Lack of exposure to other kinds of people, languages, and ideas is a disadvantage for poor rural and urban students across the country. Inner-city Birmingham is no exception, but six local high school students are hoping to become exceptional ... in more ways than one. Thanks to their hard work and the efforts of a first-year teacher, they're planning to study in China this summer. Our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen has the story.

Carsen, Ott on All Things Education Alabama

It's the final week of the legislative session and that means Alabama lawmakers are scrambling to pass several bills. One of them would tweak the immigration law by preventing school officials from asking students about their parent's immigration status. Still, the Justice Department is concerned about effects on Latino children. And that's just a little of what's happening on the education beat. Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen tells WBHM's Tanya Ott about that and more in this week's interview.